I’m not going to beat around the bush: if you want your marketing to work, then you need to have a plan. However, we live in the world of “now”. We all have clients or bosses who want us to “deliver results fast”. They all agree that marketing planning is great but…”Can you do some marketing now?”
When faced with that pressure, here are the bare essentials of Marketing Planning that you must ensure are in place.
1. The Thinking part: Strategic Marketing
Make sure you have articulated WHAT you are selling, WHO you are selling it to, and WHY you are selling it. This is a core part of Strategic Marketing Planning. It provides the guidance for what you must and mustn’t do as a marketer.
If you haven’t got this nailed, even in a basic format, it means that you’ll be pushed and pulled by whatever force, fad or fashion is strongest.
Not sure what I mean? Here’s a simple example:
Your manager comes to you and says, “We need to develop a marketing campaign for new businesses with low budgets”. Your company’s Strategic Plan says, “Premium product, at a premium price to established businesses”. As a diligent marketer, you must highlight this clear discrepancy between stated Strategic direction and spur of the moment demands.
If you haven’t done, at the very least, this part of strategic marketing, then your organisation is just going to be pushed and pulled by the strongest opinion.
My blog, “What’s in a Strategic Marketing Plan” explains in more detail what you need to put in the Strategic part of your plan.
2. The doing part: base it on your customers
When you’re told to “do” marketing, it’s often tactical marketing. All tactical marketing has to be based on your customers. Make sure you’re not using self-reference criteria.
It’s too easy to think that if we like a particular product, or we respond to a particular type of marketing campaign, then our customers will. No. You need to get inside the heads of your customers and “do” your marketing based on their timings, their communication preferences, and their needs. And if you don’t know what these are, then you need to do some market research. Even secondary research is better than none.
3. A different message for different stages
When you plan your marketing, you have to look at the different stages of the Buying Process (Kotler) and plan for how to reach prospects and customers at each stage.
It’s dangerous to think that there is one “killer” marketing message which can go out there with one “killer” marketing tool. Marketing is more complicated than that.
Bryony Thomas, in her award-winning book Watertight Marketing (click here for a free first chapter), takes Kotler’s Buying Process and expands on it. Crucially, she explains that you have to match your marketing activities to your customers throughout the whole Buying Process. Not just at one part.
This means that your marketing plan needs to reflect the different marketing messages and marketing tools that will reach people at each stage of their buying journey.
There are times when you’ll be asked to “do” marketing and expected to just leap straight into a frenzy of marketing activity (normally promotional). Having the confidence to take a step back and put these marketing planning basics into place will help you develop a plan that will actually work- as opposed to a rush job that will probably fail to deliver.
Kara Stanford is a Strategic Marketing Consultant, Chartered Marketer, Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant, Oxford Professional Education Group Tutor and blogger about marketing. Sign up to her free monthly newsletter here.
If you want to learn more about marketing planning, our CIM Diploma in Professional Marketing may be of interest to you. To find out more, get in touch with our student representatives today via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01865 515255.